Each week, we take a retrospective look at albums we think are either criminally underrated or woefully overrated, and why they actually rock/suck.
This week, we cast our judgmental gaze on thrash-metal behemoths Slayer and their third album Seasons In The Abyss. This effort attempted to be a sonic midpoint between their successful first two albums but all this album proves is how you can’t combine thrash and doom (in this way anyway), and when you do the results are varied at best. While the double-kick drumming on their debut Reign In Blood sounded like the frantic hooves of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, drummer Dave Lombardo seems a bit lost for ideas here. When he uses his double-bass drum skills on songs like ‘Dead Skin Mask’, the low tempo makes it seem a bit metal cliché, but on the other songs where doesn’t double up it just doesn’t sound like Slayer. Both ‘Expendable Youth’ and ‘Skeletons of Society’ meander along at a leisurely pace (albeit by Slayer’s standards) without feeling like they’ve gone anywhere. The guitars in the former’s verse are barely different to the guitars in its chorus and the latter chugs on for about a minute too long.
It’s only on the songs that could fit on Reign In Blood where Slayer experience any real success, which is an issue in itself because they’ve already mastered super-speed thrash. Having said this, ‘War Ensemble’, ‘Hallowed Point’ and ‘Born of Fire’ all have more than enough head-banging aggression (and thunderous double bass drumming) to stand alongside tracks off the group’s classic debut.
The frustration of this album comes from the fact that there are some good songs on it, but in other parts the group seemed so hell-bent on slowing things down that they forgot what made them great in the first place. A leisurely jog around the park by the Usain Bolts of heavy metal.
You can listen to the album here.